Cambodia: Angkor and the water festival

We arrived in Siem Reap, the city next to Angkor, after another very long and painful local bus ride, during which I was sick, again. Once at the hotel, what a relieve! It didn’t matter that half of what was advertised was not true, it was clean  and that was enough to please me! We met Jean for our last shared trip together. We decided to spend 5 nights there, to really have time to visit the huge city of Angkor, and also because it was the water festival in Cambodia, something we were very curious about. Last year it was canceled In Pnomh Penh due to many issues the year before. Luckily for us, this year it was in Siem Reap and went fine (or at least we didn’t notice anything).

There are many ways to visit Angkor because it’s so big, but we picked bicycles (as it is our favorite transportation mode) to go around what they call the small and the big circuits, and hired a tuk tuk to see more remote temples 60 km away. A fun German guy called Thorsten (but I kept calling him Tungsten) that Jean met on his way to the hotel joined us. Very important detail: there was a pool in his hotel, a luxury we could not afford. At some point it was so hot (35 degrees on average) that I seriously considered skipping lunch and using the money to pay for a pool entry fee. Thanks to Tungsten I didn’t have to do that, we enjoyed his hotel pool for free, it felt so decadent and good!

But back to Angkor! The temples are all so stunning and different from each other, so beautifully covered with details, it simply is beyond words. No photo can do it justice. I was afraid to be bored pretty quickly but I enjoyed every second of the 3 days we spent visiting. The carvings are quite amazing and some are very well conserved (most temples were built around the 12th to 14th century, but some are even older). The entire site is extended over 90 km, and was only intended as a worship place, people were not living there, which seems like an intense journey back in the time! Some of the constructions are eaten by the jungle and wild trees, some are used by cute monkeys as a playground, you can climb on top of them, walk inside them, get lost in some maze like gigantic ruins. Everything we saw was very interesting and awe inspiring. It’s definitely the highlight of our time in Cambodia!

We enjoyed our last day and night in Siem Reap and went to the water festival along the Mekong river. The atmosphere is crazy! It’s packed with Cambodians, there’s food everywhere, music, fireworks etc… Kids go swimming in the Mekong river to bring light offerings into the water, it looks kinda magical from the bridges above the river. The street food was also so amazing and new to us, we had all our meals there on the last day. Also, I have to add that people in this area were extremely friendly and funny, they were all laughing and joking all the time. So many people stopped us in the street to talk, just say what they were doing for a living, right now, and asking us the same, then wished us good bye. That was the icing on the cake of an awesome time!

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Naked women carved everywhere in Angkor Wat (yet visiting women have to cover their shoulders and knees, men can go how the hell they want as long as they don’t take their shirt off, anyone else sees the irony in this?).

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Tourist monks in Angkor.

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The Bayon temple.

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Detail of the multi headed rock.

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The Bayon temple.

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Monkeys are everywhere, they climb temples, walk around tourists, go into restaurants…

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Siem Reap is reknown for being a party town. We stayed away from the backpackers area most of the time, but one night Tungsten took us to Angkor What? after we enjoyed the swimming pool at his hotel. Angkor What? is a famous club claiming it’s been supporting irresponsible alcohol since 1999. For a few hours, it was very fun.

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In the wild Ta Promh temple.

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I love those big trees!

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A band of landmines victims were playing dreamy traditional Khmer music on a bridge in the middle of the lake, it was unreal.

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Details of a very unique fusion temple that worships both Buddhist and Hinduist gods.

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On our 2nd day, we got out for a meal under a beautiful blue sky, and it switched to apocalypse under a minute. It poured for a good 15 minutes, flooding everything.

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Pirogue races for the water festival in Siem Reap.

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Offerings to light and bring into the water.

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Tuktuk selfie.

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One of the oldest temple of the area.

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Our huge meal on the night market.

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The water festival kick off.

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Security does not seem to traumatize them, but at least it’s very unique to see a fireworks from 20 meters away.

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